On the road with Peugeot 505 Turbo Injection and 604 V6 TI

GTI is a much-discussed topic in the automotive world. At Peugeot, however, only the letters T and I already deliver wonderful cars. Even when there are two completely different meanings and models behind it. We hit the road with two beautiful toppers from Peugeot’s rich past, the 505 Turbo Injection and the 604 V6 TI.

TI. The G for ‘Grand’ is deliberately missing from that designation. For this story we pick up two beautiful classic Peugeots to which the letters T and I apply. They come from the Peugeot museum collection in Sochaux. No virgin specimens rolled straight off the production line in the museum, but well-preserved occasions, each with quite a few miles of experience. You can argue about the meaning of the letter T in the beautiful 604 V6 TI, the fact is that the I stands for injection. It is the ‘injected’ variant of the 604 SL with carburettor engine. The Peugeot 505 we are comparing the 604 to is only a TI if you abbreviate its name: Turbo Injection.

Two great Peugeots with very different personalities, who moreover stem from two different eras. The construction years are not very far apart, because the 604 is from 1978 and the 505 from 1984. The difference is mainly due to the fact that Peugeot as a brand was in two very different phases of its existence in the aforementioned years. With the 604 it manifested itself for the first time as a builder of distinguished automobiles from the sub-top, where an oversized six-cylinder under the hood was a must. As a fast top model of a model series that was running for some time then, the 505 Turbo clearly hints at the sportiness that was propagated by the French from the mid-1980s. Think of the 205 GTI that caused a furore from the same period. The stately 505 also had to respond to this urge to act. Not an easy task, for a well-respected and distinguished business car from the upper middle class.

Old stamp

The 505 and 604 are Peugeots of the old school. This means that they both stem from the legendary 504, which dates from 1968. The 604 was considered the superlative, the 505 as the successor. What is special is that the three models have stood side by side in the showrooms for years; the 505 eventually even with the V6 of its big brother. The 604 had to compete with cars like the BMW 525 and Opel Commodore. And of course with the also new Volvo 264 and Renault 30, which also had the jointly developed PRV six-cylinder. The V6 has a block angle of 90 degrees – a value that belongs to a V8, because a V6 runs better when the cylinder rows are 60 degrees opposite each other. That’s all right, because the PRV engine would initially be a V8, of which – prompted by the oil crisis and the call for more fuel-efficient engines – two cylinders have been cut off. It explains the naturally restless running of the block, something from which it also derives its unmistakable character and sound. As a TI, the 604 has a power of 144 horsepower to forgive – a lot in 1978.

After a few years, a GTI with a 2.2 engine appeared in the 505 range as a top model, but shortly afterwards it was rivaled by the even more powerful 505 Turbo Injection. Strangely enough, it did not have a Peugeot engine, but the old four-cylinder, stretched to 2.2 liters, from the very aged Chrysler 2 liters. That model came with the estate of the Chrysler France brand, taken over by Peugeot in 1980. The ancient two-liter was apparently turbocharged with impunity, so that it could deliver 160 hp – enough to keep up with the similar in price, performance and size Citroën CX GTi, Renault 25 V6 and Volvo 240 Turbo. Why the Chrysler block? Not even the spokesman for the museum collection can explain it. Anyway, the addition of a turbo was all the rage in the early 1980s. Many manufacturers put their sporting destiny in the hands of that magical wind instrument. From the MG Metro to the Audi 200 and from the Renault 11 to the Mitsubishi Sapporo, the turbo was everywhere. So also at Peugeot, which had already built up extensive experience with its diesel engines – the 604 Turbo D was even a true turbo diesel pioneer.

Homologation

The 505 Turbo Injection has sporty genes; in fact, this is even a homologation model. The French touring car championship was raced in the early 1980s with monstrously fast 505s; cars with turbochargers and 400 horsepower. Peugeot itself had nothing to do with this; it was a party of tuner Danielson. To be able to continue to compete in Group A, Danielson needed a homologated edition of 5,000 copies of a turbo-fired 505. Did Peugeot want to build that, please? Yes, it turned out. A turbo version would give the brand a prestigious top model, which, as an image maker, could also provide the 505 series with some dynamism. Sporty or not, getting into the 505 Turbo Injection is like dropping into your favorite sofa at home. The ambiance may be sporty-luxurious, but you immediately notice that the car, like a true Frenchman, puts the concept of pampering above all else.

The interior of the driven car is anything but in top condition, but we overlook the charming traces of use. A bit of a shock is that the gear lever is missing its hockey stick-shaped knob, so that a bare iron stem from the center console is pointing up. Such a gear knob can no longer be found, our host says. There is still one in the museum, but it falls apart if you prick it on the stem. Then we just switch with the pookhoes, or what is left of it. And it must be said: even that is wonderful. With long but light strokes. The handling of the large Peugeot is a pleasure anyway. It requires little force, and everything is very clear. The seat is strange, because the steering wheel is at too flat an angle to the driver. A legacy of the 504. He handles tight and precise. The performance emerges as it used to be with a turbo: there must first be a lot of revolutions on the table for the wind instrument to deliver full power. The couple then develops very smoothly and steadily. The push in the back may be there, just like the way the 505 then lifts its nose and dives deep into the feathers at the back. It is not week, but it is extremely comfortable. The engine is quiet and smooth and does not reveal any of its roots in the aforementioned classic Chrysler. As a nice bonus, some suppressed noise from the turbine can be heard in the distance. What a wonderful car. It cannot possibly exceed the 604 TI. However?

Four poster bed

Transfer to Peugeot’s largest. The size is not too bad, because above all the 604 looks much more massive than it really is. A spacious limousine, yes, but not a battleship. The old V6 TI struggles to start after some maneuvering for the photo, but when the PRV engine wakes up with a roar, chills run down the spines of doting audience. That blissful timbre cannot be interchanged. The 604 does not reveal a calming buzz, like many other six-spitters, but a restless pounding that you would expect from a horny Italian. But that only applies outside the car. Everything is different inside. If the 505 is a sofa you can sit on, then the 604 welcomes you like a silky soft four-poster bed. It’s also nice that it is a car with experience in which we take a seat; then the leather feels even more supple, while it appears beautifully wrinkled, like crow’s feet on a weathered face. The 604 only has to do half as much to win over the driver as the 505. And it’s not even an automatic gearbox, as you’d expect to find in a car of stature like this. The large Peugeot has the prestige of a top-class car, if only because the French presidents allowed themselves to be transported with it.

But in the test car it is just a matter of shifting gears yourself. The five-speed gearbox fits wonderfully with the car. In other words: with the initially rightly regarded as sporty character of the V6. With a few bumps of gas, he still shows his best side: a beautiful, full and sonorous sound. The lever slides nicely, but a bit woolly in first gear and with the release of the clutch, the square derrière dives resolutely towards the asphalt. The leather creaks under the pressure of acceleration. The engine climbs a bit lazily. On to two, a lot of gas, the torque is asserted. Just a deception: the V6 is not at all as horny as it sounds, but just a wonderful, strong machine that makes the 604 an adequately performing limousine. Strong enough for confident and comfortable travel. The latter qualification deserves to be printed in capital letters, because this is where the Peugeot excels. The way this car glides over bumps can emotionally only be equaled by a contemporary like the Citroën CX. It is an unprecedented sensation to see rough bumps in the road, which we bounced so painfully over earlier that day with a new 308 GTi, from the 604 you can only see and not feel. And all without any trace of jiggling or other nauseating behavior. When asked, the manager of the two cars stated that Peugeot used to design and produce the complete chassis, springs and dampers itself, at least when these cars were in production. Not anymore today, something he qualifies as a loss; today’s frames are compromises. Hence.

The conclusion of this story must therefore be that in the past not everything was better, but the Peugeot limousines were. The brand is on the right track with its SUVs, hopefully it will soon, as the new 508, add a limousine that does justice to the 505 and 604. With a TI as top version.

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